The Kitchen Reveal

After months of renovations, including a full on gut of the entire original house, I can happily say we are settling nicely into the new kitchen. My camera was a little MIA during much of the renovations, and so was I from this blog. To say things were a little hectic would be an understatement. In addition to only taking photos with my phone and posting them to Instagram most of the time (which you can see if you feel like scrolling – a lot – and trying to pick them out), I replaced my phone and ultimately lost the vast majority of the photos that I thought were uploaded to iCloud.

The long and short is this – it’s almost impossible to even fathom the old house from the new house. The best I can do right now (at almost 10pm on a Sunday) is this:


Kitchen Before


Kitchen After

The renovation also included four rooms off of the kitchen, which now include:

  • A small guest room.
  • A bathroom/laundry room
  • An entryway/mudroom area
  • A dining room

Each of these spaces still have more work to be done in them, but the drywall is complete (with the exception of an extra patch we need to make in the dining room but you wouldn’t notice it on first glance), and the flooring is all refinished. It was too dark to take photos tonight of these spots, so I’ll get them soon! Overall it’s coming along well, and the kitchen is just about complete minus some window trim. The bathroom is all plumbed in and I love having our washer/dryer where the closet was (and hot water running to the washer for the first time in 8 years). The new entryway is so nice, giving us a good spot to take off our shoes and coats before we come into the rest of the house from the door yard. This is a view from the entryway into the kitchen.


If you’re looking close, you’ll see something special in the back right of this photo. After years of dreaming about it, Andy and I finally bit the bullet and got a wood cook stove for the kitchen. Specifically a Glenwood K. We absolutely love it, and use it at least a few times a week. We’ve already had a pizza party with friends and have made quite a bit of meat in the firebox broiler system on the side (I’ll explain this in an upcoming post!).

The wood cook stove meant we sacrificed some more storage, but as you can see in these photos I think we’re all set. We also have a Viking range and a Gaggenau double oven.

If you’re counting, that means we have a total of 12 burners and four ovens – four and one respectively which are wood driven only. Admittedly the Viking oven does not work with the exception of the broiler. That’s what you get when you get it for $0.00 dollars through the magic of reclaiming items other people don’t want. Seriously, a broken oven and we got it for free. Truthfully we aren’t planning on fixing the oven anytime soon since we use the Gaggenau’s quite a bit. All six burners however work and I absolutely love cooking on it.

Overall we are beyond happy with this renovation, and are so happy to finally be at a point in this house where we have nothing big left to do. The rest is all small – including installing the downstairs bathroom. Once you’ve been through as much renovation as we have, on as large of a scale as we have, in addition to building a garage and barn, it turns out that finishing off the installation of a bathroom feels like a cakewalk.

There’s more to come, and now that my camera is back in action I hope to write a little more about a few things going on including an on demand water heater Andy has been working on installing, a little more about the wood cook stove, a few things we’ve been doing around the homestead, and general updates about things going on.

I hope life has been treating you guys well over the last six months or so, and you had a wonderful holiday season and are so far having a great new year three days in!

Here’s to 2016 – full of many big and small changes around here, but that’s nothing new.



And Then There Were The Awesome Parts Of The Weekend

Despite Sunday being a general cluster eff, Saturday was pretty awesome.

For starters, some of my family and I got together to help clean out my Memere and Pepere’s house. While this in and of itself was sad, it was fun going through all of the items again, seeing what was there and being able to take mementos home I can always remember them by.

As it turns out my Memere and I wear the same size shirts, and that lady had good style. I never would have pegged her for it back in the day, but as of now I have about 10 shirts, including two of my Pepere’s cardigans, drying on the line outside. I also have a couple knickknacks they always had around the house like a giant fork and spoon that always hung in the dining room, and the decorative fish mold seen on the wall below.

Then I found her exercise suit amongst a bunch of her fabric. Me being me, I had to put it on, and my cousin being my cousin he had to take photos of which I was a more than willing participant because in our family we love hilarity. I may have texted one of these to my Dad. I’m pretty sure he’s never been more proud. I am definitely doing a squat in the first one, but continue to laugh because I know what it looks like.

Yep, I brought it home, and I intend on wearing it with a skirt because I love the top of it. Also, I may wear it for Halloween. All I knew is that it was not going in the dumpster. Not just yet.

After trying on various items of clothing and sorting through decades of fabric, my other cousin, her husband, and I went to her mom’s house, my Aunt Mary’s (talked about more here) to visit and eat ridiculously tasty food over.

My Aunt carries her food in a basket. She also cooks us tasty salmon. You can thank the Iphone and night-time for a super dark photo but you can get the gist of how delicious it was. If you can’t – well, then, it was delicious.

Okay so this was a great day but I need to show you what was the absolute greatest part of all. When I left the house it looked mostly like this.

In other words, there was no livingroom. Mind you I left the house at 8:30am. I got this text at 7:30pm from Andy.

You can bet I shrieked with joy as I was standing in my Aunts kitchen and then showed everyone. I’m telling. It did not exist while I was gone. And now there are walls. WALLS.

And that my friends, finished off Saturday as a really, really, good day.

That, and some homemade strawberry sorbetto.



A Little Perspective

Tonight Andy said the magic words. We’re renovating. We are officially going forward!  Andy showed me the digital renderings of our home! Now this is the perspective I like!

First, some of the details are off. We’ll have a steel roof on the house not your typical shingles. The siding will be in a farmhouse board style, but it won’t be that color. We’ll likely have a green house with a red door (our garage is green and the barn door is green). It might be too traditional for some people, but we kind of like taking traditional and then making it a little more fun. Either that, or our door is going to stay beautiful douglas fir.

Without further ado – the house! This isn’t entirely finalized, so items are subject to change but it’s still fantastic! If you need a clear reminder of what our house looks like now please feel free to look back here for a video house tour.

This is the deck side. You know, this deck. Feel free to click on the photos to make them a bit bigger!

On this side, you see a few details which might look awkward, but it’s because we have to still work with what we have. There are two chimneys because one is the current chimney which comes up from the basement. Because of the placement of our wood stove in the basement we are going to keep the original chimney from this stove. The chimney further to the right will be in the new living room and run up through the bedroom upstairs. We may also put in a window between the kitchen (three windows) and the bathroom (single window on the left). In between those two is, as of now, going to be a walk in linen closet but we still might give it a window just to balance things out. Who knows.

For both of us this is the more exciting side. Oh that porch. It’s going to be 40×9 and I am in awe of it. Here, there isn’t too much wonkyness (again this isn’t the finalized plans) except the space between the door and the window on the right because of a staircase, which would look really weird with a window. I think it would be a pretty place for…I don’t know, something big and pretty.

The other part of this post on perspective has to do with how we live. Since I will be in between jobs at the end of the summer we’re going to be pincing pennies, which has only increased my homesteading plans. I already knew it needed to happen and this was the kick/light under my butt I needed. Clearly, I love this and it’s an unexpected and super awesome side effect. Things we  will be doing (most are once other products we have are used up):

  • Once my shampoo is used up I’m going back to using my Little Bebe Bottom soap I make. My hair loves it. I’ll splurge on conditioner, but I’ll use coupons and use it only a few times a week.
  • I’ve been making my own liquid laundry detergent by boiling soap nuts and I will continue to. This can also be used mixed with water and vinegar as a cleaner for anything else. I’m using Dr. Bronners (bought on sale) for dishes, cleaning the kitchen, a boost to laundry, and potentially shampoo? I’m pretty much limiting the types of cleaners I buy and maximizing the usefulness of the ones I do buy.  I haven’t bought laundry detergent in months and months, I love it.
  • We’re going to build a cold frame hoop house out of materials we have around the house, with a few cheaper items from home depot that we don’t have. This will hopefully help us extend our growing season for greens here in Maine, to help feed our family longer. I’m researching specific ways to grow food in winter in our cold climate and thankfully already have a great book  on the topic called The Winter Harvest Handbook by Elliot Coleman.
  • Make foods you would normally buy. By this I mean buy dried beans for pennies on the dollar compared to canned beans. Not only are you not dealing with the leaching cans can cause into food, but it’s cheaper, the beans taste better and it only takes a little more prep.
  • Go grocery shopping only when we need to. No more little trips here and there. Lists and lists only, and go right after a meal and take the time to use coupons. Shop unit price-Andy always saves tons of money by shopping unit price (normally about 25%) and it’s amazing.
  • Finally, and this is more a “still feel like ourselves” but – we’re still going to allow ourselves little things here and there, just little and less. For instance, we go out to dinner once in a while. Now instead of dinner (which we rarely do in the summer because nothing beats our garden), we’ll go get a small ice cream. Or go across the street and pick blackberries and turn them into icy smoothies and sit on the porch.

I’m sure there will be other things as well, but for now that’s what I can think of.

A little perspective never hurt anyone, and there is always, always ALWAYS a silver lining. Heck, sometimes when you stop squinting you realize that those clouds aren’t so dark and gray. In fact, they might actually be a little fluffy.




Oh The Weather Outside is Frightful—But The Logs Are So Delightful

I have to be entirely honest with you guys. If I told you I always knew what a sawmill was I would be lying. I’m into homsteading now, but at 18 I thought for sure I was going to be in finance in New York City. Ten years later I have made almond milk from scratch, and I have more pairs of boots than high heels.

Nope, that’s a lie. It might be a tie. (Update October 2013: It’s true. Most heels have made their way to The Salvation Army or Goodwill. I officially have a couple pairs of high-heels and significantly more pairs of boots of all sorts).

I still had no idea what a sawmill was until Andy came around, even then it was still a few years before I ever saw one in person.

Long story short we sawed lumber at Andy’s mom’s house years ago. By “we” I mean I stood and watched and liked it—more than I expected I would. We’ve stopped and watched the sawmill demonstration at the Fryeburg Fair every year too. Watching men at a sawmill demonstration is like watching a national geographic documentary on culture. It’s entirely fascinating and perplexing. I realize this is a generalization. My own husband has mentioned multiple times about getting a sawmill for our property. Normally this happens almost immediately after the sawmill demonstration. I have so far kept this from happening since we don’t really need one. (Update October 2013 – I must have been delusional while I was writing this, or I’ve drank the water, because I think I want a sawmill *more* than Andy at this point. For real. I’m even egging him on for a grapple and hydaulic cable logging winch for the tractor. I’m also voting for trading in our tractor for the next size up.)

I also am taking too much credit for it. If he really wanted one and found it for a good price he would buy it. I should mention I would totally be okay with it too.

Where was I going with this?

Oh right. For a few years now Andy and our neighbors have been thinning out the woods and piling logs behind our house in the corner of the hayfield. Most of the trees are Poplar and Pine (surprise, we live in Maine) but there were also a couple Fir and Hemlock too (I had to ask Andy what the other two were).

Our neighbor and his brother (the farmer) own the woods behind our house and told us if we got the logs sawed we could have the lumber for our addition. I can frame how Andy felt about it in this way: it would be like giving me butter and telling me if I make cookies with them I can eat them. Yes please.

So after we found out one of the Sawyers in town was busy all winter doing carpentry work, we got wind that one of the guys at our church (with an awesome old-timey mustache I someone managed not to get a photo of) had a sawmill. Andy talked to him on Sunday, he came out and looked at the lumber later that day and then a few days ago I woke up to Andy jumping out of bed like it was Christmas because somehow, in the distance, he heard Craig pull up with the sawmill and start it up.

He informed me this was a very big deal. I asked him if it needed a blog post well knowing the answer. He looked me in the eyes and said again that this was a very big deal and exciting. With that I put my boots on, rubbed my eyes at 7:30am, grabbed my camera and made my way out to where the sawmill was.

Despite what this photo looks like there’s actually something exciting about watching a log become a board you are going to build your home with. It feels like automatic progress.

You might wonder why we don’t just buy the lumber we need.

A.) Despite it being more work, it’s cheaper to pay the sawyer than to buy all of this lumber.

2.) It’s way more fun to do it this way.

18d.) It’s super interesting to watch a log that looks all meh on the outside and see how beautiful the grain is on the inside. It never really gets old. Except when I get cold. Then it gets old pretty fast when I can’t feel my nose anymore and I left my mittens in the house. (Update October 2013: No. It never gets old. It might get cold. You might have to go warm up. But the sawing itself never gets old. I want to smack myself for even saying it could get old.)

As for my boy—he’s in love.

It’s only the truth.

Happy Freezing Your Butt off To Take Photos For Your Husband Because You Love Him,